According to a recent report, global investment in fintech companies including both venture-backed and non-venture-backed businesses reached $9.4 billion in the second quarter of 2016; investment in venture capital-backed fintech startups, however, fell by 49%. Nevertheless, the Pulse of Fintech, published jointly by KPMG International and CB Insights, suggests venture capital investment in fintech is still on track to exceed the results seen in 2015. Commenting on a 71% funding decline in which Asian venture capital-backed fintech companies raised $0.8 billion from April 2016 to June 2016, CB Insights CEO Anand Sanwal says, “The decline in fintech financing and deals is in line with what we’re seeing in the broader venture environment for startups, as VCs as well as crossover investors are pushing back harder on profitability and business model concerns. Despite the funding drop, previously under-invested areas of fintech such as an insurance area are gaining strong momentum among venture investors across geographies.”
No matter the changing and developing fintech ecologies, financial technology is clearly a growth industry becoming integral in both personal and business lives. The disruption means businesses must implement strategies not merely to manage fintech innovations but take advantage of the many advantages becoming available. Experts suggest the success, or lack thereof, of fintech uptake will leave us with some unexpected victors and dismayed losers, and expect the main battle to play out between the heavy-duty traditional players trying to keep pace with innovations and agile startups rapidly advancing fintech possibilities.
We’re already seeing the early conflicts between the traditional retail banks that have stood as robust business foundations for decades and online banks that are chopping up the old models and recombining them into sleek, cost-efficient forms. Furthermore, our advisors are changing from human to human aided by technology to artificial intelligence imbued machines as the adoption of robo-advisors progresses. Some of the innovations we’re seeing result in cost savings for consumers, but others still simply broaden the market and provide businesses with more products to sell.
Aside from streamlined financial service models, cost reductions, and startling fintech modernisms, the evolution of financial technology is making the financial sector safer and more user-friendly. Fintech makes it easier for organizations to better educate their consumers and help them make smart decisions. With advice more readily, and often freely, available, as well as assistance with ever-increasing financial regulations, it’s easier for both individuals and businesses to comply with and expertly function within financial arenas.
Fintech also provides a great benefit to the retail sector, both improving online shopping capabilities and broadening the range of payment options available. With the average internet shopper keenly aware of the risks associated with online fraud, data theft, and privacy breach, it’s imperative that online shopping sites are able to provide their customers with the necessary protection and peace of mind. And it’s as important that such sites also offer every convenience possible, including a good range of payment routes; never mind PayPal, some savvy startups are already making it possible to pay with Bitcoin. Serving not only the consumer, the latest fintech payment solutions also aid businesses through speedy fee collections and low fees for improved cashflow.
The lending and investing sectors are also benefiting from fintech; financial backing is no longer limited to traditional investors or bank loans, but instead we’re seeing the likes of angels and group investments, along with inventive loan providers breaking down the old norms and changing how we can borrow. The other side of the coin, investment, is receiving a similar shakeup as fintech firms provide vehicles for small investments with low fees and practical advice. Some startups are even making it possible to invest spare change, encouraging the layman to better his prospects no matter his current financial status.
Many of the changes we’re seeing are dramatic but just as many are happening beneath the surface and most of us won’t ever know they’re happening; nonetheless, fintech advances bode well for us and promise a better-educated consumer and a more flexible and accessible financial environment.
By Jennifer Klostermann